Kenneth Levin’s April 20 front-page essay (“The Empty Rage of Jewish ‘Progressives‘“) makes precisely the correct distinctions between Alvin Rosenfeld’s monograph and the responses of his detractors. If they don’t want to be lumped together with self-styled progressives who delegitimize Israel, they should watch the company they keep.
Lately there has been much gnashing of teeth in The Jewish Press and elsewhere about leftists and “progressives” questioning Israel’s right to exist after 59 years. We should expect no less from leftists and “progressives” – or from the traitors of Neturei Karta.
What baffles me is that we descend to their level and defend our existence, as if it were a subject for debate. I do not see any other nation on earth debating its right to exist – not Sweden, not France, not even the United States, whose sins against its native population are scarlet. Israel exists, period. That is a fact of life. Those who desire to change it have to beat us, and if they try, they will find that Jews are far less beatable than we used to be.
Responding To Abuse
Re Elliot Pasik’s “How to Eradicate Abuse in Our Communities” (op-ed, April 27):
As an active member of the Task Force on Families & Children at Risk, I would like to assure Mr. Pasik that there is a lot of work being done in New York to protect our children. For many years we have been sponsoring educational symposia for mechanchim/mechanchot, rebbetzins, and the lay community abuse as well as on many other issues.
On May 9, my agency, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, will be hosting a similar program focused on prevention for the Queens community with Dr. David Pelcovitz as a presenter. Later in the month, the task force will be presenting a prominent rav and Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski to speak with mechanchim/mechanchot on this topic.
We in the frum mental health community have been responding, and the attitude of our rabbonim has likewise shifted. While the shift may not be as swift or as public as we might like it to be, I believe that, after 120 years, many members of the community will be able to respond confidently when we are asked “Ayeka?”
Faye Wilbur, LCSW
Boro Park Office
Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services
I enjoyed reading Dr. Yitzchok Levine’s intriguing article on Rabbi Dr. Henry W. Schneeberger as “America’s First Native-Born, University-Educated Orthodox Rabbi” (front-page essay, April 27). Please permit me to assure those readers who may think this contradicts my claims about Rabbi Dr. Herbert S. Goldstein that, to my knowledge, Dr. Levine’s article was 100% accurate and does not contradict anything I wrote or said about Rabbi Goldstein.
I have written that Rabbi Goldstein was the first American-born and educated Orthodox rabbi to have achieved national prominence. Both rabbis graduated from Columbia University, but Rabbi Schneeberger went to Europe for his rabbinic training and ordination and doctorate, while Rabbi Goldstein received all of his secular and Jewish education and degrees in America.
I hope nobody will ever demean the earlier rabbi’s many impressive achievements, but Rabbi Goldstein was the only person to have served as national president of the Rabbinical Council of America, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, and the Synagogue Council of America (before the ban by the MoetzesGedolei Hatorah, after which he was one of the leading rabbis to resign).
What counts above all, of course, is that these rabbis sanctified God’s name, were a kiddushHashem on numerous levels, and helped to perpetuate traditional Judaism in America in many unprecedented ways. For those reasons, we should all be eternally grateful to both of them.
Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq.
Editor’s Note: Rabbi Reichel is the author of “The Maverick Rabbi,” a biography of Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein.
It’s bad enough hearing from a distance about the bizarre anti-Semitic theories taught by heads of state, schools and religious leaders. Now, according to a study funded by the British government, we learn that some schools in Great Britain have stopped teaching history that is offensive to Muslim students. The topics that have been erased from the curriculum, the study found, include the Nazi genocide and the Crusades.
This rewriting of history through omission wasn’t some government policy, but the result of individual decisions in local schools by teachers with large numbers of Muslim students. Unfortunately, many of these students have been taught by parents and mosques that the Holocaust never happened and that the Crusades were an unprovoked attack on Islam by European Christians. History books that present these events in any other light, they believe, are part some giant conspiracy designed to attack their very religion.
If anybody needs to hear these facts, it is the children who are being abused by those who are teaching the same hateful lies that have helped turn the Middle East into the mess it is today.
America is a free country and we do not tell people what they can believe or say. We should realize, however, that there are people in America who are also telling their children that the Holocaust is a lie and that those who say otherwise are their enemies. We cannot prevent them from doing so, but we also cannot let them promote their agenda with the claim that they are being victimized by historical facts.
Even in America, our children are often taught a watered down, inoffensive and culturally sensitive version of events ranging from the Crusades to the battle at the Alamo. It’s time for people who believe they have a stake in Western civilization and its traditions to get a little backbone – even if it offends somebody.
Brian J. Goldenfeld
Woodland Hills, CA
Poland As Sanctuary
Re Shmuel Ben Eliezer’s weekly “Po-Lin” column:
I was told some time ago that “Po-Lin” means or is derived from “sanctuary” or “safe-place” in Hebrew. If that’s true, then we have a remarkable epithet that has survived nearly a millennium. It seems that whenever Poland was a sovereign state, Jews were safe and thrived there. Postwar Communist Poland was a non-sovereign state, dominated by the USSR.
I’m an Australian with a Polish family background. My father was inmate 4798 in Auschwitz. Most inmates in 1940 were Polish intellectuals, civic and community leaders, and young men like my father, who was 18. He was later transported to Buchenwald and escaped just before they executed the majority of the inmates, days before the Allies arrived.
When the war started, my father and his brothers smuggled dozens of Jews from Warsaw at night, across the German/Russian border near Brog and Malkinia. They also smuggled people (Polish soldiers) the other way, risking their lives to return to families in Warsaw or beyond.
I truly wish that Jewish people could have a “1,000-year vision” when they think of Poland, or Po-Lin. Poland will always be a sacred place to all who value and respect Jewish history. That long, rich history ought to be taught to Jewish children, nurtured and valued, not ignored and devalued.
When will people escape their prejudiced “Polish Holocaust” thinking? I guess when journalists stop writing about “Polish concentration camps”and Jewish leaders protest strongly against anti-Polish defamation.
Poles and Jews must stand united to expose and condemn the Nazi Holocaust, and also to affirm their moral victory. That tragic era in history should become a springboard to renewed humanity and nobility, not a trapdoor to pain, guilt and blame. (It should be noted that Poland and Israel have developed a strong relationship, and many Jewish entrepreneurs have invested in Poland.)
I suggest that your newspaper feature more stories about noble Poles – like Jan Karski, Irena Sendler, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, and my late father, Henryk Kruszewski.
Disillusioned With Orthodox Life
I am overwhelmed with Jewish life as it exists today, especially in the Orthodox world. It seems one has no value unless one has money and/or power – or, if one happens to be a woman, is a gorgeous size 2.
I am an unemployed widow who has been trying to find work at the local Orthodox schools. One of them is actively seeking teachers, the administrators know I’m available and many people have recommended me, but I cannot even get an interview. All I get are evasions.
My second issue: I have a wonderful and beautiful daughter who happens to be overweight, so no one will set her up with anyone who is not fat or undereducated (she has a master’s). Since I got married at 19 when I wore a size 16, I don’t understand the situation that exists today. Frum boys (and their mamas) only want tiny girls, and the shadchanim appear to be unsupportive if you do not fit that mold. My daughter has yiras shamayim, but no one seems to care because she has a few extra pounds.
I always thought that taking care of a widow and an orphan were high priorities in Judaism. I have to ask – where are the frum Jews to help? Are they too busy running after money, power, and kavod?
I have endured all of this for more than eight years and have reached my limits of understanding and patience. If this is frumkeit, I don’t need to be part of it (even though I was born into a frum family and have been so all my life).
All I can say is, shame on all the rabbis who either lead the charge into gashmius or lack the guts to stand up to the masses and do the right thing.
Sometimes I feel I am living in the time of Kamtza and bar Kamtza, when the rabbis sat at the banquet and allowed a man to be shamed because they did not want to offend their wealthy host.